Endymion in Africa

Endymion read Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness (not voluntarily, of course).  While we both agree the novella could have been written in 20 pages or less, he rather enjoyed the story.  He’s quite firm on his opinions regarding one race’s supremacy over another.  He likes Marlow, a lot.  He doesn’t see the attraction to ivory.

His teacher is trying to introduce the class to Post-Colonial Literary Theory.  It was difficult for Endymion to wrap his mind around this, as he’s not a reader, and has never read anything which is considered to be Post-Colonial.  A little history about England and India gave him something concrete to which he could relate the book.  (This he knows, given his heritage.)  He’s interested in the concepts.

Our problem is currently lying in the strong currents of the “in-class essay”:  Endymion has to write 8 paragraphs (his first time writing more than 5) discussing Conrad’s use of narrative conventions as seen through the lens of Post-Colonial theory.  Yeah, this is going to be useful in his adult life. Endymion’s not stupid; he knows the narrative conventions (and can identify them in the text), he understands the basics of Post-Colonial theory (and can discuss them fairly intelligently).  What he can’t do is write 8 coherent paragraphs on the subject without someone doing some serious editing, and he certainly can’t do it in the three hours allotted.  Some benevolent deity must be on our side, though, as the teacher gave the warning just before Spring Break, so we’ve had the whole week to work on it.

I’m highly impressed, and highly amused, by Endymion’s progress since last year.  He had to read Frankenstein, and it almost killed him; two essays were the end of the world.  This year, he seems to have a friend in his English class, and said friend is apparently female.  The efforts put into this year’s work go right off the scale; he’s spent more than 10 hours preparing for this essay.  He has asked me to help him improve his vocabulary, so he sounds like he’s in Grade 12 rather than Grade 8.  He’s trying for an 80% rather than a 65%.

I’m thinkin’ I should pair up all of my students with a member of their preferred sex, but then I’d likely be out of a job.

Conrad should have included more women in his books.

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